Overcoming a 25-year battle against migraines

Ever wondered if your diet could be contributing to your headaches or migraines?

Andrea Henson, has overcome her 25-year battle with debilitating migraines and improved her family’s health after convincing her husband and children to take a food intolerance test.

After undertaking a Food&DrinkScan Programme, 46-year-old Andrea discovered she has intolerances to cow’s milk and corn, which had contributed to weekly migraine attacks for over half of her life.

Three months later, the results speak for themselves: “Since starting my new eating regime, I’ve gone from having migraines on a weekly basis to having just three in total – they pretty much disappeared after six weeks. I was amazed.”


The married mum-of-two had been plagued by migraines since her twenties.  With attacks ranging from “moderate to severe”, one extreme occasion Andrea found herself in hospital with a suspected embolism.

“That was definitely my worst episode. I had to have all kinds of tests including a lumbar puncture and CT scan. It was very frightening and just goes to show how bad migraines can be.”

“My episodes were always unpredictable, they could come on quickly and affect my vision or be a slow starter, lasting anywhere between one to three days. I was left feeling exhausted and achy but there was nothing anyone could do. As I run my own business, I had to try to soldier on the best I could. It was really hard.”


Andrea was prescribed migraine relief tablets to help combat the attacks.  She said: “The tablets were very strong so I was only able to take a limited dose – around four tablets a month. This was difficult to manage because the migraines were so regular; although I needed the relief, I had to try and reserve the medication for when I really needed it, or risk not being able to have any at all and really suffering later.”

Andrea’s tablets caused adverse side effects, she said: “It was a huge relief to take the medication out of my handbag and be confident that I don’t need it anymore.”


“Migraines used to be a normal part of my life. Now I finally feel I am normal for not having them.”


The owner of a catering company, Andrea was originally interested in increasing her knowledge of food intolerance so that she could learn more about handling her clients’ special dietary requirements, and to ensure she was adhering to new food regulations.

Andrea said: “YorkTest came highly recommended by a friend who had been diagnosed with a severe gluten intolerance. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to gain a deeper insight into different sensitivities for the business.”  Once Andrea had decided to take the plunge herself, encouraging her family to take the test was an obvious step to take.

 andrea and husband

Andrea’s husband, Andrew, found he is intolerant to wheat, milk and Brazil nuts while both children returned results indicating cow’s milk intolerance. Daughter Mckenna, was also surprised to learn she has an intolerance to prunes.

Andrea said: “Mckenna’s prune reaction was the most unusual of our results. It seemed very strange because she hadn’t been eating them – not intentionally. We investigated further and discovered that prune juice is used as a sweetener and colourant in a lot of drinks, which has turned out to be helpful for my business.”


“I now cook everything from scratch so I know exactly what ingredients have been used and I can pass this reassurance on to my clients.”


With expert support from a YorkTest Nutritional Therapist, the Henson family removed all intolerances from their diets. 12 weeks into the elimination programme, the family has started to reintroduce some trigger foods back into their diets with successful results.


Andrea said: “Before changing our eating habits, if Andrew and I ate out we would both suffer from uncomfortable and painful bloating afterwards which ruined our night.  But after eliminating our trigger foods and knowing to be careful about our choices, we were actually able to enjoy our meals without discomfort.”

 henson family

“The whole process has been life-changing for us all and even the children have benefitted by developing an awareness for what they’re consuming. Before the YorkTest programme, they wouldn’t think twice about eating a chocolate bar or packet of crisps – now they’re conscious of checking the ingredients and can make informed choices.”


“I’m very grateful for what YorkTest has helped us to achieve as a family and overcoming my 25-year migraine hell is the icing on the cake.”


Andrea is one of hundreds of people who turned to YorkTest for help with professional nutritional and wellbeing support through the identification of food intolerances and dietary guidance.

Dr Gill Hart, Scientific Director at YorkTest explained: “YorkTest has supported a number of research studies looking at the impact of elimination diets on migraines which have helped to shape the way we conduct our food intolerance services.


“This includes findings from Migraine Action[1] showing that over two thirds of sufferers believe that eating certain foods can cause a migraine, and those following tailored diets which eliminate trigger foods can improve their symptoms. The problem is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ diet for everyone.”


“This is why we are passionate about taking a bespoke approach to diet for all of our customers and their symptoms, through food personalisation. After first seeking medical advice, we encourage anyone experiencing negative reactions after eating and drinking to learn what’s personally holding them back from an improved quality of life, just like Andrea and her family did.”


Those suffering with negative symptoms following eating and drinking, can undertake YorkTest’s FirstStep Programme (priced at £24.99) to determine whether or not they do have an intolerance. YorkTest’s Food&DrinkScan Programme, priced at £299, analyses a person’s food-specific IgG reaction to 158 food and drinks. Included in the programme is expert advice from BANT-registered Nutritional Therapists on how to safely replace problem foods whilst maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.


[1] https://www.yorktest.com/research/migraine-research/migraine-survey-2011/

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